It means, “shut the f*ck up!”
It means, make no noise!
It means let me think for a minute. Let me reflect.
It does not mean blow bugles and beat drums. It does not mean raise flags and banners, sing songs of victory and glory and righteous pride.
Noise is the enemy of silence.
Pomp and ceremony are the enemy of reflection, of thinking, of genuine not confected emotions.
Nauseating pomp and excruciating ceremony and all the commercialism that these are cocooned in, do nothing more than mock the genuine sentiment that brought about this, the most eloquent form of expression, the moment of silence.
There is no more powerful, no more phosphorescent sign of hypocrisy than the three-word-slogan -because that’s what sentences too often uttered become – than the catchcry, “lest we forget!” It is an insult to those who have died and an insult to those who have survived; those who see the bombs – our bombs! – scorching the planet to its core, who hear the groans of pain and agony, of despair, of despondency, of the savage loss of their loved ones, of their homes, their farms, everything they hold dear and are wondering what is the point of this three-word-slogan?
Lest we forget what? What exactly?
And who is this “we?”
“We” that is the common man and woman has never caused a single war. Never!
The common man and woman looks at their children and grandchildren, their siblings, their ageing mums and dads, uncles, aunts, cousins, neighbours, tomatoes and zucchini growing in their vegie patch and rejoice. They need nothing more. That is their ultimate, their heaven. War is the very last thing they want. They do not start it and they do not impose it. No common man or woman wants to lose a jot of it and if the politicians were just common men and women, they’d make sure that this heaven is nurtured and nourished.
All politicians. In all countries.
But politicians are not are they? They are not common men and women, I mean. They are certainly not there to nurture and nourish an earthly Heaven, one that is populated by men and women, with hearts and minds and bodies that age and ache as they do. Men and women who are unequivocally mortal and with very short lives.
Politicians despite what they tell us are there to serve those who have no respect for all those things that make up a common man and woman’s Heaven.
Lest we forget?
“We” have forgotten, “we” forget and “we” do not learn because nothing, in effect, ever changes.
From the days of the 300 Spartans to this very moment, nothing has changed, nothing has been learnt, nothing shall be remembered.
Nothing promotes war than parades of phalanxes of current and past soldiers, of soldiers’ children and grandchildren, with glistening steel raised high, of shining medals, of over-starched uniforms and over-polished, boisterous boots. Nothing speaks more clearly of the powerlessness of the ordinary man and woman and the absolute and indomitable power of the elite, the war mongers.
Nothing extinguishes humility as effectively as pride. Monuments, the budgets of which can lift a nation out of poverty, give shelter to the homeless, treatment to the sick, untold wisdom to the students are monuments of pride.
And Pride is a path to ruin.
Nothing will change other than the faces of the sanctimonious politicians who stand straight as an insouciant post with their right arm rising to a salute.
The last post, bugled and sung and acted out over and over again for all eternity. Speech after sententious speech, rhetoric trying to rival Pericles’ Funeral Oration, flows out of their mouth with emotions so hollow, so vacuous, so insincere that hardly a single syllable of those speeches will be heard, or heeded or remembered a minute after they’ve been uttered. Not the words, not the dramaturgy, not the histrionics.
Dissembling and dissimulating at their most monstrous, at their most grotesque.
If “we” are to remember anything, it is that politicians lie, politicians are oily, unctuous beasts; that politicians send us to wars, wars that we have not caused and wars that we do not want, wars that are anything but silent, anything but harbingers of peace or nurturers of our earthly Heaven.
If “we” are to remember anything it is that we shouldn’t fictionalise wars. That we shouldn’t mythologise it, that we shouldn’t romanticise it, that we shouldn’t clog History with wars and heroes and victims of wars. There are no moral lessons in wars, only immoral ones.
Thucydides, a soldier himself, tells us that he wrote the History of the Peloponnesian War so as to see what war does to morality. What he could learn about man’s character and how it’s affected by war. What he saw displeased him enormously. War destroyed morality, morality being the most crucial part of man’s character.
“We” do not want Trump’s parade, or that of North Korea, among many, many others.
“We” want the war mongers, the greedy and the gluttonous powerful, those deluded enough to think that money and power will give them physical immortality, those who think that making funeral orations in front of cameras give them a moral advantage over their political adversaries, to stop.
“We” want them to be silent and to reflect and to let us reflect.
That’s what “we” want!